1.6 million! That’s how many apps there are available for Android. Apple’s App Store has a staggering 1.5 Million apps available as well. Today we are going to take an in-depth look at all of them!
HA, not! But my editor just had a hernia from reading that, so in their absence let’s take a look at the apps that can make your job a little bit easier. As the resident “there’s an app for that” guy, I have downloaded, battle tested, and deleted more apps than you can shake a proverbial stick at.
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Whether it’s doing something more efficiently, or allowing you to look like a super-hero in front of your boss, any app you bring into your work environment should be as unintrusive as possible. If it takes more time to pull out your phone and open an app than it would have taken to do it without the app, that app shouldn’t be on your phone.
Below is a list of apps I have used on a regular basis for work. There is no one size fits all with apps, you have to find the ones that work best for you and your environment.
Bringing My Data with Me
There are times when you just don’t have enough storage on your phone to fit everything. Or you have a weird file type that you can’t natively store/view/work with on your phone. Like Word docs or Excel sheets. These apps have helped me in a pinch, being able to pull up the latest numbers or view the most recent version of a document in a meeting at a moment’s notice.
Dropbox & Google Drive
If you have ever read a work/productivity app review, you know you should be using Dropbox or Google Drive. I personally use both, because two is better than one. Gives me extra storage and certain apps integrate better with one or the other. Both apps are free with paid upgrades, and have a mobile and browser application.
The ability to review and update documents while mobile is one of the greatest workplace advancements of the 21st century. Word/Excel and Pages/Numbers work best with their native file types, but Google Docs and Google Sheets seem to not care where your word doc or sheet started. Google Docs/Google Sheets are free, Word/Excel are free but without the paid desktop version you can’t edit files, you can only view them, and Pages/Numbers are each $9.99, however if you bought/activate your iDevice on or after September 1, 2013, you can download them for free.
If you have a website, you should be looking at your Google Analytics fairly often to evaluate how your site is functioning as a whole, as well as to determine how any prospecting campaigns you are running are performing. The free Google Analytics app has helped me look like a rock star in meetings, allowing me to quickly look up any of our clients site’s current numbers.
I like making life easier. If I have to do something more than twice, I usually am finding a way to automate it, or at least cut down the number of steps required. There are several apps that allow you to automate your phone; these are the ones that live on my phone.
Workflow: Powerful Automation Made Simple
Workflow is a great app that is worth the $2.99 price tag. I use this thing both for work and for personal use. The basic idea is that you can automate things you do all the time, saving you time and often frustration. You can turn webpages into PDF’s to read offline, automatically get directions to your next calendar event, turn your last photo burst into a gif – the options seem endless. The coolest part about this app in my opinion is all the ways you can trigger these automations. You can open the app and run them from within the app, using the Today Widget, launch it from your Apple Watch, or even MAKE ANOTHER FREAKIN APP AND SAVE IT TO YOUR HOMESCREEN! Sorry, got a bit excited about how meta that last one is, considering we are talking about an app that can make apps in an app review. But yes, you can save your “Workflow” to the home screen, and even customize the icon it uses, then launch your Workflow without even opening the Workflow app. AMAZING!
IF by IFTTT
Workflow works by you telling the app to do something. IFTTT (IF This Then That) works by monitoring apps/websites and automatically taking an action when a “trigger” is detected. It can be as simple as adding a lead to Salesforce whenever you add them to a Google Sheet, or as complicated as notifying your team whenever your company is mentioned and sending them a link to the mention. And it’s free to get started.
We take notes everywhere these days, from scraps of papers to whiteboards. There are apps out there that help/allow you to digitize these notes so you don’t have to bring those scraps of paper and whiteboard with you everywhere you go.
Evernote – capture notes and sync across all devices. Stay organized.
Another app you have likely heard of is Evernote. Seriously, just download it and start playing with it. It’s a great way to track/take notes, make to-do lists, basically makes notes for everything (Ever…Note, get it?). Combine that with the power of IFTTT, Zapier, and Workflow, and you have a great way to send and receive data between your apps! Evernote is free to start but has paid options as well.
Scannable/Scanner Pro 7/Tiny Scanner
When taking handwritten notes, either on paper or post-it notes or even a whiteboard, you should document it digitally. This usually means taking a picture of your notes and moving on with your day. However, that picture is usually fairly hard to read, is skewed the wrong direction, etc. These apps are awesome because they detect the edges of your paper/post-it/whiteboard, and can adjust the brightness/contrast to make your handwriting/doodles pop. The image it takes looks like your whiteboard was scanned. And then you can save/send these images (cough cough IFTTT/Zapier/Workflow cough). This really helps the readability of your notes and allows you to store and send them in a more professional manner. Scannable is a free app from Evernote, and as such integrates well with Evernote. Scanner Pro costs $3.99 and can create searchable PDF’s, which is very useful when you are making a multi-page document. Tiny Scanner is free and has all the features of Scanner Pro, minus the searchable PDF.
These apps help with the actual running of your business, from tracking time/conversations/receipts, to making calls and sending emails.
Harvest Time & Expense Tracker
This is our internal time-tracking app. It allows us to track time per task, and then assign that task to specific jobs per each client. You can either enter time or use the stop-watch feature. The interface is very easy to use, both the phone and web app, and it is flexible to fit all of our needs. Can’t recommend them enough. It’s free to try for 30 days, then has a monthly fee that scales with the number of users you have.
Basecamp 2 for iPhone
We use Basecamp here at Marketing in Color, and the ability to quickly look at notes in a job or add a picture (like from one of the scanning applications???) is necessary when running around from meeting to meeting. It won’t replace the web-version of the app, but it does compliment it well. The app is free to download but requires a Basecamp account to use.
Microsoft Outlook/OWA for iPhone
Fun fact: Microsoft makes two different apps for Outlook, “Microsoft Outlook – email and calendar” and “OWA for iPhone” (OWA stands for Outlook Web App). They work very similarly, however I prefer OWA for iPhone because “Microsoft Outlook – email and calendar” splits your emails into “Focused” and “Other” categories, and far too often emails I am looking for fall into the “Other” category with this app. Unfortunately only “Microsoft Outlook – email and calendar” has Apple Watch Support, so I keep both on my iPhone. Both apps are free to download.
Enjoy a business line, conference line, and even fax, all within one app. Great for making and receiving business calls when mobile without having to get an actual mobile phone from your company. Requires a RingCentral account.
These guys should pay me, because I sing praises about this app everywhere I go. It’s another app I use consistently for both business and personal use. The basic concept is you take a picture of your receipt and then throw the receipt away. Through some well-defined tags, the app “reading” your receipt and an awesome online interface, you can search all of your receipts, get reports on your spending habits, and even download a PDF of your receipt. Back to the app “reading” your receipt, it actually goes in, looks at the line items of the receipt, the tax/tip/total, and digitizes them. Oh yeah, it also reads your handwritten totals when leaving tips at restaurants, and will even do the math when you just write the final total and not the tip amount. MAGIC! This app is 100% free, and I haven’t been able to find a way to give them money despite multiple attempts.
Now these might depend on your definition of fun, but they are definitely useful. Also, my editor is coming out of their hernia-related-coma, so we’ll make this quick!
Dark Sky – Hyperlocal Weather, Radar, and Storm Alerts
One of my favorite weather apps, which sounds like a nerdy thing to say (and maybe it is) but this app has saved me from getting soaked more than once. It rains a lot here in Florida, and the weather can quickly turn from a bright and sunny day to rain that can only be described as cats and dogs. When this is about to happen, Dark Sky notifies you with an alert that says how soon it will start raining at your current location. It also has a cool tool that shows you over the next hour and day how much rain there will be and when. Unfortunately it’s only available on iOS, and it isn’t free, but to me it’s been well worth the $3.99.
MyRadar NOAA Weather Radar – Forecasts, Storms, and Earthquakes
If Dark Sky is my favorite weather app, My Radar is my second favorite! It shows me cloud coverage, wind speed and direction, and temperatures all on one map. Great for seeing if that rolling thunder cloud is headed your way or not! And with the low-low price of free, its much more accessible than Dark Sky.
Speedtest.net Speed Test
Ever wonder how fast your Internet connection is? If so, you have probably used the Speed Test web app to check. This mobile version is also free, and comes with a funny Easter Egg.
Telstra Wi-Fi Maximiser
Ever wonder which area of your office has the best Wi-Fi? This app lets you take a map of your office and test the speed all around the office, generating a cool heat map that shows where you get the best and worst Wi-Fi signal. Oh, and it’s totally free.
Ever take a video on your phone and in your excitement to capture the moment you hit the record button while rotating your phone from vertical to horizontal, and now your entire video rotated the wrong way? Well as you may have noticed you can’t rotate the video so it’s the right orientation from the Photos App. Rotate and Flip is a handy app that allows you to do just that. And it’s free. How nice is that?
Sure, you can rotate your photos in the Photos app, but you can’t fix the perspective of the photos. SKEW was designed to do just that. To me, it’s been worth the $1.99 price tag (iTune’s Gift Card for the win!) but to you it might not be. However, it’s the most feature rich perspective app I have found, so if you care about that type of thing, SKEW is the way to go.